A New Solicitor for the Crofting Commission

David Findlay - Crofting Commission Solicitor

David Findlay – Crofting Commission Solicitor

David Findlay has been appointed as the Solicitor to the Crofting Commission.

David is from Perthshire (with roots in Lewis), and began his career in Stornoway as a trainee. He then moved to a Perthshire firm, before moving North again to join Macleod & MacCallum’s Rural Land Department. During his time at Macleod & MacCallum he specialised in crofting law, becoming accredited as a specialist by the Law Society of Scotland in 2013.

David will be part of the Commission’s Senior Management Team, comprising:-

  • Catriona Maclean, Chief Executive and Accountable Officer
  • John Toal – Head of Policy and Crofting Duties
  • Donna Smith – Head of Information Systems
  • Joseph Kerr – Head of Regulation
  • Jane Thomas – Head of Corporate and Customer Services

All Change

The regulatory body for crofting has been through a period of intense change.

The old Crofters Commission was abolished by the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. The new Crofting Commission was formed in 2012, and comprised 3 appointed and 6 elected Commissioners.

The Commission’s former Chief Executive Nick Reiter retired in 2012, and Catriona Maclean is now in that post. Mr Reiter’s retirement was followed the next year by the resignation of Donnie Ross, Commissioner for Caithness, Orkney and East Highlands. Mr Ross was replaced by Marina Dennis, who had previously served as a Commissioner with the Crofters Commission.

Sandy Cross, an appointed Commissioner who was to specifically represent the interests of landlords, also resigned, in 2014. He has recently been replaced by David Campbell.

In addition, there have been several changes in the Commission’s legal agency since the early retirement of Donald Smith in 2010.

Is all Publicity Good Publicity?

The Commission have also been in the news (and in this blog) several times over the last few years, as a result of the stance they took on owner-occupiers decrofting – namely that the 2010 Act did not allow them to do so. This was tagged the #decroftingdebacle, and resulted in the Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013, which my colleague Brian Inkster considered to be wholly unnecessary.

The #decroftingdebacle was followed by the Commission’s policy to shackle together legally those who owned parts of a croft. The signature of each owner was required on an application to decroft or let, and that policy caused serious problems for many crofters.

The Commission will now change that policy, in light of the decision of the Scottish Land Court in MacGillivary v Crofting Commission (blogged by Brian: Crofting Commission make a U-turn on Decrofting Appeal to the benefit of many owner-occupiers).

The Commission and its staff must surely be looking forward to sailing in calmer waters ahead, and we wish them well in that.

Eilidh Ross MacLellan

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